OP­TI­MUM OP­TI­CAL

Phill Price vis­its a Bri­tish com­pany that’s tak­ing on the world

Air Gunner - - Contents -

The edi­tor vis­its Hawke head­quar­ters and finds him­self im­pressed

I’ve had a deep in­ter­est in op­ti­cal de­vices all my adult life, try­ing to find the best binoc­u­lars, cam­era lenses and ri­fle scopes that I can af­ford. So, imag­ine if I were work­ing for a com­pany that de­signs and de­vel­ops op­tics, in a pur­pose- built fa­cil­ity that over­looks a tidal es­tu­ary teem­ing with birdlife; I’d be in heaven! I was lucky enough to be in­vited to ex­actly that, in the form of the global head­quar­ters of Hawke Sport Op­tics in Suf­folk, that over­looks the river Deben, and typ­i­cally for me, I was dis­tracted by the wildlife through­out the en­tire meet­ing!

The stylish and mod­ern head­quar­ters is home to the de­sign­ers, the war­ranty and re­pair team, along­side all the ware­hous­ing of the ri­fle scopes, binoc­u­lars and tele­scopes. Al­though this large build­ing was pur­pose built for their needs just nine years ago, they’re al­ready be­gin­ning to find it tight for space as their busi­ness grows, and I found it quite up­lift­ing to see a Bri­tish com­pany tak­ing on the world and do­ing so well.

A look through their cat­a­logue shows an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of ri­fle scopes, but I learned that they’re not all in­tended for the UK mar­ket; some have been de­signed for spe­cial pur­poses in for­eign lands that would have no ap­pli­ca­tion here. Un­sur­pris­ingly, my main in­ter­est was in the air­gun scopes and binoc­u­lars suit­able for hunt­ing, and even then there’s a huge choice. There re­ally is some­thing for ev­ery­body, from the mod­est Van­tage 4 x 32 that’s un­der £ 50, right up to their field-tar­get job at over £ 800, but they all have some things in com­mon; they’re all de­signed in the UK and built to a very tight set of spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and they all come with the Hawke ‘no fault’ life­time guar­an­tee, that’s the same on the cheap­est to the most ex­pen­sive and is one of, if not the most gen­er­ous guar­an­tees you’ll ever find.

DOU­BLE QUAL­ITY CON­TROL

The com­pany was open about the fact that all their prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured in China, with the sim­ple rea­son­ing that it’s the only way that they can source the qual­ity they de­mand, at a price we can af­ford.

With over 20 years of proudly de­sign­ing and sup­ply­ing op­tics, they’ve seen it all, and made thou­sands of suc­cess­ful mod­els in that time. De­spite this, I was truly sur­prised at just how many of the prod­ucts are run through a sec­ond, qual­ity con­trol process once they ar­rive here, which al­lows Hawke’s team greater con­trol over the scope that you and I will buy. That’s a very

costly thing to do, but they con­sider it nec­es­sary to main­tain their classlead­ing rep­u­ta­tion.

Of course, there can be prob­lems with any prod­uct now and then, which is why they have a ded­i­cated war­ranty and re­pair team in­house, ready to rec­tify faults. Their over­ar­ch­ing mo­ti­va­tion is cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, and all re­turns go back to the cus­tomer within 3- 5 days. If they feel there could be a de­lay that ex­ceeds that, they typ­i­cally re­place the scope with a new equiv­a­lent, so the cus­tomer isn’t in­con­ve­nienced. Any faults are care­fully logged in an ef­fort to iden­tify and un­der­stand them bet­ter, and the re­sults are dis­cussed with the de­sign team in case a change is needed or could be in­cor­po­rated into newer mod­els. The fact that sev­eral of the staff are ul­tra- keen shoot­ers is also a great help to the de­sign team.

GOLDEN AGE

The data cap­tured by the war­ranty team shows that the vast ma­jor­ity of ap­par­ent faults come about be­cause the owner hasn’t un­der­stood how to use the prod­uct, so to try to re­duce dif­fi­culty Hawke has cre­ated lots of web pages of truly use­ful in­for­ma­tion. Read­ing these can of­ten help you to iden­tify where a prob­lem ac­tu­ally comes from, which could help you to re­solve it your­self, getting you shoot­ing again more quickly.

To­day’s Hawke scopes are in­cred­i­bly tough and of­fer guar­an­teed wa­ter- and shock­proof­ing, as well as be­ing ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing the in­fa­mous ‘springer two- way re­coil’ that used to wreck scopes all the time. Not only that, but most are also guar­an­teed to with­stand the re­coil of heavy- cal­i­bre firearms, so we can be sure they’ll last. Other old prob­lems such as the zero shift­ing as you zoom the power ring, have been elim­i­nated, and ret­i­cle fail­ure is un­heard of. We re­ally do live in a golden age for scope per­for­mance and wor­ry­ing that they’ll let us down in the field is a thing of the past.

Just be­fore I left, I was told about some new mod­els in the de­sign phase now that re­ally caught my imag­i­na­tion. If they de­liver on their prom­ise, they’ll take scope per­for­mance to yet another level and I, for one, can­not wait to see if they make it into pro­duc­tion. As I drove home think­ing about the visit, it was clear to me that the staff I’d met had a real pas­sion and be­lief in their com­pany and I have no doubt that’s a sig­nif­i­cant part of why they’re just so suc­cess­ful. I’d like to thank the team at Hawke for their hospi­tal­ity and the open­ness they showed me dur­ing my visit – and oh yes, the spec­tac­u­lar view across the es­tu­ary! www.hawkeop­tics.com

“it was clear to me that the staff I’d met had a real pas­sion and be­lief in their com­pany”

ABOVE: Pos­si­bly the best meet­ing room I’ve ever vis­ited!

BE­LOW LEFT: The de­sign team is work­ing on some VERY in­ter­est­ing projects right now

TOP: Scopes are com­plex de­vices and ev­ery part must be per­fect ABOVE: They’ve been mak­ing scopes for a very long time

BE­LOW RIGHT: In- house ser­vic­ing and re­pairs as­sure top- class cus­tomer ser­vice

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